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Two Volunteers at Erie VA Team Up to Save a Vet’s Life

Compliments of : Veterans Administration

two male volunteers standing side by side

Greetings — Volunteers Ron Lord (L) and Dick Irish usually spend their time greeting visitors who arrive at the Erie VA. But one morning both men faced an unexpected crisis, and handled it like pros.


by Tom Cramer, VA Staff Writer

Sometimes life comes at you fast. Just ask Ron Lord and Dick Irish, two volunteers who were working the greeter’s desk at the Erie VA Medical Center on the morning of February 28, 2013.

The morning started out quietly enough as Ron Lord settled in at the greeter’s desk for the day. But all that changed around 7 a.m. when a Veteran experiencing extreme chest pains entered the lobby. Lord quickly took the Veteran over to a bench in the lobby to make him more comfortable.

At that moment, volunteer Dick Irish arrived and Lord immediately asked him to call 911 for a Rapid Response Team. Lord and Irish then worked together to direct visitors away from the congested area so Response Team members could stabilize the Veteran.

“There were three nurses from the VA Rapid Response Team,” Lord said. “They got here in less than five minutes.”

At one point during the episode the Response Team was suddenly in need of towels, which Lord was promptly able to provide thanks to a plentiful supply stored at the greeter’s desk.

“Our VA team helped get the patient on a stretcher, and then the Veteran was transported,” Dick Irish said. A few short minutes later, the ailing Veteran was in the capable hands of emergency room personnel.

Those two guys are heroes. They both reacted quickly and, most importantly, remained very calm during a crisis.

“The whole incident only lasted maybe 15 minutes, but it seemed a lot longer,” Lord observed.

“It’s 15 minutes you don’t soon forget,” Irish agreed.

Not surprisingly, both Lord and Irish happen to be Veterans themselves. Lord served in the Army in the late 1960s; Irish served in the Navy from 1959 to 1963.

“Those two guys are heroes; they saved the day,” said Karen O’Neal, the Erie VA Voluntary Service Chief. “They both went above and beyond the duties of greeter’s desk volunteers. They both reacted quickly and, most importantly, remained very calm during a crisis.”

National Volunteer Week — April 21-27

Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) joins the nation to observe and celebrate National Volunteer Week, when we formally recognize and honor the profound impact and contributions of VA volunteers for their service to Veterans and their families.

VA’s Voluntary Service has provided over 66 years of service to America’s Veterans seeking care in VA health care facilities. Since 1946, volunteers have donated close to 750 million hours of their time.

As VA has expanded its care of Veteran patients into the community, volunteers have continued to be involved. They assist Veteran patients by augmenting staff in such settings as hospital wards, community living centers, outpatient clinics, community-based volunteer programs, end-of-life care programs, respite care programs, adaptive sports, creative arts, Veteran outreach centers, national cemeteries, and Veterans’ benefits offices.

During fiscal year 2012 nearly 84,000 active volunteers contributed more than 12 million hours of service to Veterans.

To learn more about VA’s Voluntary Service (VAVS), go to www.volunteer.va.gov

National Volunteer Week began in 1974 to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Since then the week has become a nationwide effort to urge Americans to volunteer in their communities. President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an Executive Order in 1974. Every sitting U.S. president since has signed a proclamation promoting the week, as have many U.S. mayors and governors.

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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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